Dr. Leifer: NY must expand, incentivize COVID vaccine distribution

Concern is growing given the sluggish rollout of the coronavirus vaccination distribution in New York. To address the delays, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new "Use It or Lose It" vaccine regulations.

Cynthia Leifer, associate professor of immunology at Cornell University, says vaccines need to be given quickly as possible and rather than disqualifying sites from getting future distributions, expanding the number of distribution locations and incentivizing rapid use is a better solution.

Cynthia Leifer 

Cynthia Leifer

Associate Professor of Immunology

“It is great news that New York is rolling out the COVID vaccine, but we need to move much faster. The FDA approved Pfizer’s emergency use authorization request on December 11, and New York received the first shipment on December 14. Since then, roughly 274,000 New Yorkers have received the vaccine. That is about 13,047 per day. The bad news is that at this rate, it will take nearly four years to immunize nearly 19 million New Yorkers.

“Cuomo is right that we need to make sure the vaccines are being given as quickly as possible and that sites are not allowed to stockpile. However, I agree with those who are critical of Cuomo’s plan for rigid rules and disqualifying sites, especially hospitals, from getting future distributions.

“Expanding the number of distribution sites and incentivizing rapid use of stocks is a better way to go. Regardless of who gets immunized when, we need to remember that we are in this for the long haul and everyone needs to continue to wear masks and physical distance.”